Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Finding the balance in mythic science fiction

I guess I should define my terms. To me, mythic science fiction is a legend or creation myth retold with science fiction conceits. I'm not sure if that's the generally agreed upon definition, but I'd say that my Coyote Discovers Mars story fits it, as does the story I just wrote for the Chinese themed anthology. What's interesting about writing in this subgenre is that it is hard to balance the myth and the science.

First of all, the stories are pretty light on science, going instead for cinematic images and fantastical moments rather than being grounded in our physical universe. And yet, I find that when I workshop these stories, a certain percentage of people will grab hold of one scientific inaccuracy and want it corrected.

In my short story for the anthology, the line was pretty clear once the editors pointed it out. There is a storyline that takes place in the modern day told alongside a legent. The legend can be fantastical. The modern day parts need to pass scientific muster.

But in other circumstances, it's hard to say what it is that strikes a reader as so much fun they don't care if its accurate versus something that knocks them out of their suspension of disbelief. My hunch is that the parts that capture their imagination are easily forgiven, while the parts that don't get scrutinized.

Anyway, just my random thoughts. Please do add your own, as I love writing these types of stories and would love to sell more of them.


  1. Howdy! I just discovered your blog as I googled "Gardner personality test" and was delighted to find you're a writer, as I am, and LDS, which I am, too. (I was a struggling screenwriter, pre-children, and have been trying to get the groove going again lately. I'm confused by the new Final Draft software; I have always been technically challenged, and it has apparently gotten worse in the ensuing years...)

    I'd love to read your stuff. Can I get an EM Tippetts book at Amazon or Deseret Book?

  2. Hi Shauna! Yes, on the right hand side of this webpage are links to buy my book (the next one will be out next July). There are also a couple of links to stories I've sold that are published online.

    Nice to meet you. I've studied screenwriting, but never been good at it at all. Are you writing for the LDS film market or the national one?